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Distance Education - E-mail

Let’s talk about E-mail. E-mail is certainly one of the most important tools you will use in your online classes. In fact, if you do not contact your instructor by email on the first day of class, that is, the first day of the semester or session, you may be dropped! You probably already have an E-mail account, most students do. But there are a couple of important practices you need to keep in mind:

  • The "To:" line
  • The "Subject:" line
  • The "CC:" function
  • Attachments

I am using Yahoo mail for this demonstration. It is a browser based E-mail which allows to send and receive e-mail over the Internet from anywhere.  Yahoo mail is FREE (as well as gMail, MSN, and Hotmail)!


Enter your instructor’s email address in the to line.


It is important that you use the SUBJECT line to identify yourself and what you are sending to your professor.   All online instructors require that you put the following information on the SUBJECT line:

  • Your name… followed by
  • The name of the class… and
  • The title of your e-mail (what you are sending)

We want your name because many of you have bizarre e-mail usernames: such as BUDHOUND, RAMOSLADYFORLIFE, or HOTBABE. Since these are not the names that appear on the roll sheet for the class, we require that you put your real name on the subject line so that your instructor can properly record your grades.

We want the name of the class to help us to group the messages by class, which saves us time and allows us to respond quicker. Most instructors have over 150 students each semester and up to 7 courses.

We also want you to tell us the title of what you are sending. Give the assignment name or number.  Provide as much information as much as possible. Even if you are saying, “Hello” giving us a title helps us to prioritize the important e-mails from the others. Online instructors get hundreds of e-mails a day. Do this for e-mail you send to your friends, too.

So once again these 3 things: your name, your class, and the title of the e-mail are very important and are REQUIRED!  If you do not include this information, chances are your online instructor will not read, grade, or respond to your e-mail.


In Yahoo mail the CC function is accessible by clicking the Add CC link above the to line.  "CC" means carbon copy and it is important, think of it as a copy machine. You would never turn in an essay or report without making a copy for yourself. Right? That is what the CC function does for you. When you send something to your instructor always put your e-mail address on the CC line so that a copy of what you send goes back to you. ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS, CC everything, even “Hello” messages, back to yourself using this method.


It will be important in many of your courses that you know how to send attachments. Attachments are documents, pictures or graphs that you send attached to your e-mail.  These are usually developed in another application like WORD or EXCEL. This is the preferred way that most instructors want you to send an essay or research paper. Let me demonstrate by sending an attachment in Yahoo mail.

Click on Attach Files below the subject line.   When it opens… go to File One.  If you know the name of the file, type it in or hit the browse button to look for the file.  When you hit the browse button there is a list of items you can choose from so you’re going to pick the file you want to send.  Click on the file and select Open. It will then appear in the File One text box. Once finished selecting files click the Attach Files button, and then click Continue to Message

You can see the attachment that you are sending to your professor and yourself. Get started on your message and when you’re finished hit Send and off it goes to your professor.

Make sure before you send your e-mail that you don’t just include your professors e-mail address, but also your e-mail address in the C.C line, along with your name, the name of the class and the title of your work in the Subject line. 

Well now you know what to do. The first thing you should do is send your instructor an e-mail.  Good luck!

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